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Thread: Outdoor skills and useful information

  1. #1
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    Default Outdoor skills and useful information

    Back in the forum days we had a dedicated section of the forum related to outdoor skill, bushcraft, equipment, etc. I don't know how useful something like this will be here, but at least, there are some things I want to show. You can also share your experience or any useful information if you want. Or ask questions. I will appreciate it.


    While this forum is international, most of my skill (but not all) are probably better suited for northern climate. Also, probably, not everything will be possible because of different local regulations. I think in northern US, Canada, Finland, Norway and Sweden this will be mostly relevant.

    Usually this kind of topics called "survival", but I really dislike this term. It is perfectly possible to just live in natural environment with normal life, and if someone feels that it's hard to survive, than something already done horribly wrong. Also dislike typical survivalist's attitude to nature...

    __________________________________________________

    To start this thread I want to show something simple. How do you think, is it hard to just come into a frozen winter forest and build there a shelter for 4 persons, suitable for living for a few weeks with comfortable room temperature inside? Here was an experiment I made 7 years ago (so quality of photos is not very good):

    First, found a suitable location and built a frame:
    https://sun9-65.userapi.com/UdfAyPnC...bEbHVsYJlY.jpg

    Gather some spruce branches for the roof and additional thermal insulation.
    https://sun9-54.userapi.com/SPhSfcXR...-XgjDk2g1c.jpg

    This is half-build state, but already suitable for living. Basically, there is tent material tied from the inside of the frame, and spruce branches making roof and covering back wall, and all around. It takes me about 10 hours of work to build this, mostly alone.

    https://sun9-41.userapi.com/jbgW54tZ...foOtpQ3XdA.jpg
    https://sun9-26.userapi.com/8mkJ1RrM...KHPiW_Fsvk.jpg
    https://sun9-11.userapi.com/LnpnFM6O...5IRSsJd9B4.jpg
    https://sun9-60.userapi.com/vsPRj1WM...2ByPH9X9Cc.jpg

    First night was not particularly comfortable, because remnants of snow inside the shelter melted, and earth is slowly dried.

    Nice warm fire:
    https://sun9-52.userapi.com/YI51sZbx...OfKHFwOYP8.jpg

    A hole in the roof for smoke:
    https://sun9-55.userapi.com/PZjmPGfd...Z7Hp-VXLWU.jpg

    I'm still not mastered yet chum or teepee - like shelters related to smoke. Sometimes they are relatively smoky, sometimes not. But this one was very good and not smoky at all. Maybe because of its size.

    Inside view and my very old backpack in its original state (I completely remade it later). There were 4 sleeping places inside in the rhomb shape, with the gap for the entrance. And fireplace in the middle.
    https://sun9-50.userapi.com/Ddcw5o-P...vYaQL48UN0.jpg
    https://sun9-65.userapi.com/Zb0h538x...RPKdLgOnFo.jpg

    And now it is in a final state. More spruce branches were added (in Russian we have a special word for this kind of branches, call them "lapnic"), and walls were covered with snow.
    https://sun9-29.userapi.com/WHhula5l...cRJeiSken4.jpg
    https://sun9-66.userapi.com/NlTPbxJ7...-AHqq5xGkQ.jpg

    From the tree:
    https://sun9-41.userapi.com/PKyxTF-m...SVnWCxrne4.jpg

    Here is the temperature inside on the third day: +22 Celsius (+71 Fahrenheit)
    https://sun9-26.userapi.com/g9p7OPbf...qZjbRamxD4.jpg

    Final look:
    https://sun9-28.userapi.com/QsqLitZo...lpvRdqzDHU.jpg
    https://sun9-70.userapi.com/eM44Z0U4...FcaUyYwIss.jpg


    Couple of friends joined me on the second day and we lived there for 2 weeks. The temperature outside varied from -5 to -15 Celsius (22 to 5 Fahrenheit). After a couple of days the shelter becomes very comfortable to live. The earth warmed. When the fire burns in one place for a long time earth beneath and around it becomes very warm. It was nice to walk on a hot sand barefoot in the middle of winter). It also creates some thermal inertia effect that helps to maintain more or less constant temperature when fire was dimmed and flared again.


    The idea behind this shelter was pretty simple. Snow is a good thermal insulator. It increase the temperature from whatever is outside to 0 Celsius. Spruce branches are very good in stopping convection, and they work as additional insulator. They increase temperature from 0 to, say, 10 Celsius and protect snow from melting. And the layer of tent material rises it further.

    Total amount of work was about 16 to 18 hours. So it's nice to imagine how good the shelter could be if more time was added to construction and improvements. ))
    Last edited by Forest Wind; May 20th, 2020 at 02:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    That's amazing, thanks for sharing it!

    Was it high enough to stand up straight in?

    "That's wolves for ya', good guys!" -Wolf, t10k
    wolf/werewolf & clouded leopard| 38 | female | writer | scuba diver | funny | chaotic good | Hufflepuff | INFP | eclectic witch

  3. #3
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    Yes, it was. At least in the middle near the fireplace.
    Last edited by Forest Wind; May 21st, 2020 at 11:48 AM.

  4. #4
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    The shelter looks fantastic, thanks for sharing!

    I welcome the idea of having a thread or forum section dedicated to outdoor activities. I feel that it's something most wild-animal therians would benefit from.

  5. #5
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    That's great, I really need to learn more actual bushcraft. I had a book on it somewhere.

    As things are right now, I am mostly just pleased to finally have decent camping equipment. For a long time I was making do with stuff from when I was a kid - like, your average Walmart sleeping back, the size of a bale of hay.

    When I worked in Montana, I had a supervisor who was fantastic about teaching us different knots. Since I was usually miles and miles in the wilderness for a week and a half at a time, with almost no amenities, I practiced a lot. But of course, since I haven't practiced much since, I have forgotten a lot of what I learned. Some of those knots were really handy.

  6. #6
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    Not sure how relevant my bushcraft is because it's mostly Aussie stuff and revolves around 'don't touch that' and 'yes you really will get lost in there' hah! Would love to go north and get some serious winter experience though, that shelter looks awesome!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kisota
    I had a supervisor who was fantastic about teaching us different knots. Since I was usually miles and miles in the wilderness for a week and a half at a time, with almost no amenities, I practiced a lot. But of course, since I haven't practiced much since, I have forgotten a lot of what I learned.
    I'm not focus on them, really, despite having a sail catamaran with more than a 100 meters of rope on it) There are maybe 5 to 6 most common knots for different purpose I use, and that's all. Don't think this is too important.


    Dried meat.

    This is probably the most useful thing I ever learned. Lightweight balanced food with high nutritional value and unlimited storage time - is essential for being able to cross large distances and spend extended periods of time autonomously far from civilisation. Reduction in weight of food has multiplicative effect, very similar to rocket science) The less you carry, the less energy you spend and less food you need. And proteins are usually the most difficult to store - most common protein-based food are either heavy or couldn't be stored for a long time, or both. Dried meat is perfectly fill this niche.

    I learned this recipe from my friend I mentioned here: https://www.werelist.net/showthread....295#post304295 , and he learned it from Mongolian. It is way superior to any other recipes I know - less salty, much faster to made, easier to eat and very tasty.


    1) The meat must be not very fatty, without skin, and preferably without tendons or pieces of fat. Most often I use chicken breasts, but most other types of meat are ok. I usually cut it in pieces with the size no more than 1,5 centimeters in one dimension (at least), sometimes make them long, sometimes in smaller pieces to make it dry faster. Here is an example: https://sun9-64.userapi.com/6EuMdheY...fuWxl2z4bE.jpg

    2) Make a boiling salt solution with maximum concentration of salt. There is not much of it needed, only to be able to to put in there a small portions of meat for a short time. Basically, you need to put salt in slowly boiling water until it stops dissolving, no matter how much mixing. Good indicator - some amount of non-dissolved salt on the bottom of boiling solution. Keep in mind, that amount of salt that could dissolve in solution depends on trmperiture, so if you make maximum concentration in cold water, it could completely dissolve in boiling.

    3) Put small portions of meat in this slow boiling solution for a short time - about 10 seconds. Make sure they washed from all sides. It's ok (and even preferable) if temperature drops and solution stops boiling after putting meat in it. You can take the meat out before it starts boiling again. But it is very important to wait until it starts boiling before putting the next portion of meat.

    The idea here is pretty clever. When the temperature of solution drops, the concentration of salt in it becomes more than physically could be dissolved with this temperature in normal conditions. It is very aggressive solution that instantly sterilise meat, creates microscopic layer of salt on it's surface and draws water. After this meat instantly become slightly dry by touch, and less soft. I usually let the salt water to flow down and then put it on paper. Like this:

    Pieces after the solution:
    https://sun9-50.userapi.com/ZKUDm4O7...Eh1-z4toPs.jpg

    And ready for drying:
    https://sun9-35.userapi.com/WCKa7oi3...NczoBeiDho.jpg

    (it's ok to put pieces close together, because in process of drying their volume will decrease, however it will increase time)

    4) The drying process could be done with several methods. At home I usually put them into the oven with the temperature about 95°C (203°F) for about 4 hours.

    In process:
    https://sun9-29.userapi.com/7uXaps1T...Of_DBDyF_w.jpg
    https://sun9-64.userapi.com/3UFMrlra...YpIbYQ_GK0.jpg

    With chicken meat if the colour becomes too red with white corners - the temperature is probably a little higher than needed, if the meat is too pale - lower than needed. It doesn't matter too much and could be found experimentally.

    When the pieces are different in size, smaller ones will dry faster and must be removed. I usually check them once every half an hour.

    5) Final result: https://sun9-45.userapi.com/4J24MEwe...kWCl-C1mVw.jpg

    During initial drying meat will decrease in weight approximately 4 times compared with raw one. If it will be stored in cotton bag it will slowly dry further up to 4,5...5 times, almost 100% protein. But will become harder. To stop further drying simply put meat into a plastic bag, it will remain softer.


    In natural environment.

    It's also very easy to dry meat using campfire. There are two main methods. First is over the campfire in the stream of hot air, using a grid made of sticks. This is a deer meat dried this way in Yakutia:

    https://sun9-7.userapi.com/NEzgFRFaw...-OsrC69XYI.jpg
    https://sun9-63.userapi.com/yyN5eAsw...SAcizHP1p4.jpg
    https://sun9-9.userapi.com/hECg1dzNI...p4EZzgIDjc.jpg

    In addition of it's godly taste it will become smoked as well) Very effective method that needs low attention. However making a grid is an additional work, and preferably it needs to be made out of relatively thick sticks to prevent them from deforming while drying and pieces of meat randomly falling into the fire trough the gaps...

    The second method is around the campfire in the heat zone. This is in Altai:
    https://sun9-3.userapi.com/FNVwX5i5P...QesbTf-3kc.jpg
    https://sun9-69.userapi.com/0_Y7qgn_...plHLAiyODc.jpg

    It needs good control over the campfire, checking the distance and heat. But less preparations. Both methods will take about the same time - 4 hours.

    Salt recovery.

    One extra advantage of this method is low salt consumption. It is possible to evaporate solution and recover most of the salt used in the process. And use it multiple times... It probably not necessary in civilised conditions but could be handy in the wild where it may be limited.

    I use salt usually up to 3 times, and after it it will become very tasty itself and can be used in cooking like a flavouring. Found this accidentally when I was cooking the rice and found that there was no salt except this one. Funny side advantage)


    Dried meat is one of the core components of my outdoor ration. 4,5 times lighter than raw, with unlimited storage time, and not more expensive at all. It takes in total about 5,5 hours of time (1,5 active and the rest is just occasional control) for one cycle, usually up to 1,5 kg of dried meat in the end. It's about two weeks of proteins by the average norm, if you assume no other sources.


    The main difficulty in making this - is the willpower needed to not eat it before the trip)
    Last edited by Forest Wind; June 13th, 2020 at 08:19 AM.

  8. #8

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    I love dried meat, so thanks for sharing

  9. #9
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    Too awesome! I might need to give that a try.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kisota
    I might need to give that a try.
    Yes, and I would like to hear the opinion about this method and its results, from those who will try this)

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